Online Learning at Scale

A Special Issue of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM TOCHI)

Special issue editors:

  • Benjamin B. Bederson (University of Maryland)
  • Scott Klemmer (University of California, San Diego)
  • Dan Russell (Google)

For questions, please contact

Important Dates

Deadline for Submissions: May 31, 2014 (submit via Manuscript Central)
Reviews Due: August 9, 2014
Author Notification: August 23, 2014
Revised Papers Due: October 26, 2014
Special Issue Published: Early 2015 (estimated)

This (delayed) timing is designed to give authors of strong papers at the ACM Learning @ Scale Conference to have enough time to do additional work, and submit a deeper and more comprehensive article to this special issue. As always, be sure to follow TOCHI’s prior publication policy (


While the mainstream media declared 2012 the Year of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), the reality is that technology-based learning is as old as technology itself. From the printing press to correspondence courses to television and CD-ROMS, technology has offered and often delivered improvements in the way we learn. Yet, in 2012, a new user experience coupled with free access created worldwide interest at a level not previously seen. In this special issue, we aim to improve our understanding of the use of technology to support learning at scale. Through a combination of the properties of self-service, self-paced structures, peer feedback and assessment, adaptive offerings, and more, there is a wide open design space for online courses, and many elements of interactive learning systems that are not well understood.

Much of the research about the latest systems is descriptive and/or anecdotal. And it is not yet clear how the many older studies of online learning apply to the latest crop of systems. In this special issue, we expect to explore a wide range of research, including those focused on the following (which is not an exhaustive list):

  • The differences between massive and smaller scale experiences
  • Adaptive learning & tutoring systems
  • System implications on design as well as Design implications on the systems
  • Social aspects & dynamics
  • New models of social engagement for learning in MOOC environments
  • The pathologies of large online social groups (is it true there are relatively few in MOOCs?)
  • Peer assessment & feedback
  • Peer support during learning
  • Role of TAs / instructor(s)
  • How deadlines affect students in large scale classes
  • How self-paced structures affects motivation
  • How competition affects participation and success
  • Student behavior / learning analytics
  • Disciplinary differences
  • Interface, Interaction, & Experience Design
  • Understanding Design Issues
  • Cultural Issues (how international students influence feedback, course discussions, etc.)
  • Blended & flipped classes – how MOOC style teaching can be repurposed in face to face settings
  • Sharing & Remixing classes – how one instructor can use the online material from another
  • Student requirements – what prior experience, skills & knowledge is necessary for student success
  • Retention and long-term use – Does knowledge gained online “stick” as well as that learned traditionally? What, if any, is the impact of online learning in the longer term? For different ages?
  • Taxonomies and classifications of online approaches

All contributions will be rigorously peer reviewed to the usual exacting standards of TOCHI. Further information, including TOCHI submission procedures and advice on formatting and preparing your manuscript, can be found at:

Full manuscripts are submitted via the ACM online manuscript system at: When submitting a paper, please choose the “Online Learning Special Issue Submission” manuscript type on the first page of the submission form.

To discuss a possible contribution, please contact the special issue editors at